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Maine, Maryland Voters Approve Same-Sex Marriage, Minnesota Rejects Man-Woman Marriage Amendment

Marriage equality is spreading… (Photo: Asterix611/Flickr Creative Commons)

Voters in Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage, and a similar measure was leading in Washington state on election night. Meanwhile, voters in Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a between one man and one woman.

The New York Times reports that the victories for marriage equality in Maine and Maryland mark the first time that gay marriage has been legalized via popular vote. Six states and Washington, DC have legalized same-sex marriage through legislation, while voters in 32 states have rejected such marriages in referenda.

“We have made history for marriage equality by winning our first victory at the ballot box,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told the Times. HRC had raised millions of dollars to spend in four states– Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington– that voted on same-sex marriage measures on Tuesday.

The Huffington Post reports that Question 1, which overturned a 2009 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, was easily approved by Maine voters. As of press time, Question 1 was leading in the polls by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.

In Maryland, voters approved Question 6, upholding a bill signed into law in March by Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.

Voters in Washington state also headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast votes for or against upholding that state’s marriage equality bill, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire in February. As of press time, Referendum 74 was leading 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent on strong support from Seattle-area voters.

Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press reported early Wednesday morning that a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman failed to muster enough votes to pass. The defeat of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment is historic because it marks the first time that a state’s voters have said “no” to such an amendment. Gay marriage is already banned under Minnesota law.

Gay and lesbian residents of Maine and Maryland hailed the respective votes with jubilant celebration.

“I’m so elated right now,” 32-year-old Marylander Mary Bruce Leigh told the New York Times at a victory party in Baltimore. “This is the civil rights issue of our time, and we have succeeded in Maryland.”

“It’s being part of history,” Nina Nethery, who watched the election results stream in at a party in a Baltimore nightclub, told the Washington Post. “I’m in history,” added Nethery, who has been with her partner Ruth Siegel for 15 years.

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